Coronavirus commissioner to church leaders: Elderly people deserve to live

“We see it day in and day out. Every day in Israel, we have 40 people who die," coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu said.

Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu and Ayman Saif, head of the Magen Israel Arab desk, visited with leading Bishops in Haifa on Saturday to address issues specific to the churches and Christian religious events.
Saif said that weddings and funerals “worry me the most,” and during the visit, the group specifically reviewed guidelines for funerals - including ways to maintain respect for those who die from coronavirus - and related issues. 
“This is a sickness that causes people to die,” Gamzu said in an impassioned speech. “We see it day in and day out. Every day in Israel, we have 40 people who die.
“There are 700 people in serious condition in the hospitals. The number went down, but there are still 700,” he continued. “When we decided to lockdown there were 500. The overcrowding in the hospitals has not yet gone down in a meaningful way.”
He said many people believe it will not happen to them, that they will not get sick. But it only takes one asymptomatic person in the wrong place without a mask to spread the virus. 
He told the leaders - who included Father Joseph Mata, Archbishop of the Greek Catholic Church in the Galilee; P. Hanna Kaldani, Patriarchal vicar of Galilee; and many others - that as the heads of their communities, people are turning to them for how to behave.
“They listen to what you say and that is what they do,” Gamzu said, adding that there is less disease in prayer houses today only for one reason: gabbais, church leaders and heads of mosques have been diligent to not allow worshippers without masks and to monitor the number of people inside their institutions.
“Control the number of people praying together,” Gamzu stressed. “This is the most important message: this virus can lead to serious sickness or death. Even a person who is 70, 80 or even 90 years old deserves to live.”
When Gamzu spoke on Saturday, the Health Ministry had not yet released new numbers of people infected or dead.
On Thursday, some 1,608 people were diagnosed with the virus, the Health Ministry showed. There were 713 in serious condition, including 247 who were intubated. The death toll stood at 2,128.